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Reviews and dispatches from Montreal #FIJM 2022 (5): Christine and Ingrid Jensen Quintet at Dièse Onze

Christine and Ingrid Jensen Quintet,

(Dièse Onze, Montreal. 2 July 2022. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

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L-R: Steve Amirault, Ira Coleman, Ingrid Jensen, Christine Jensen, Jon Wikan. Phone snap

Montreal’s very own jazz hero Oscar Peterson once said “When you see performers on stage…they’re giving everything they have inside them, and they’re taking that risk, to please you. You have to back them. So do it.” That remark resonated in several ways at the second house at Dièse Onze last night, a performance by the Christine and Ingrid Jensen Quintet, with pianist Steve Amirault, bassist Ira Coleman and drummer Jon Wikan.

One might expect that playing in a familiar hang, a musician-friendly venue, a “safe space”.. might encourage calm or even a sense of ease. No way. The level of commitment from the performers to make this occasion special, to take risks and expect to succeed with them was palpable, as high as it ever can be. Yes, the implicit contract between performers and audience is different when there are familiar faces, notably music students in the room, but in this instance it seemed to act as a spur, to raise rather than to reduce the stakes.

The presence of bassist Ira Coleman in the group was significant in several ways. The sisters chose to mark it with the choice of a glorious tune in his honour, “Sister Cheryl” from the 1985 Blue Note album Foreign Intrigue by drum legend supreme Tony Williams. Coleman had worked a lot with Tony Williams, and there was a sense of joyous gratitude to the bassist, right from Jon Wikan’s very first glorious drum flourishes. It was an absolute highlight of the set. Pure enjoyment.

That sense of profound gratitude for Ira Coleman may need some explaining and I am going to give it a try: the bassist recently accepted a teaching role at McGill. Christine Jensen said simply “thank you for moving here”. But what was implicit in that simple phrase is the idea that Ira Coleman is going to bring a lot to the jazz community in Montreal.

I have read the statement of his values as a jazz musician, in this press release/ interview. Try this as a sample: “The best kind of music-making and music-learning experience comes from listening to each other, knowing what to suggest and what to say, and getting to know the people with whom you play.” Next time any jazz musician wants to reinforce the values of this community, I hope they will borrow shamelessly from it. It says what needs to be said. No more, no less. Christine Jensen herself has recently announced that she will be moving her base from Montreal taking on a new role at Eastman in Rochester. (STORY HERE).

The mention of Oscar Peterson above resonated when hearing Steve Amirault. This was the first time I had heard him live and his power and presence as a live performer, the enthusiasm he communicates were totally life-affirming. An heir to Peterson indeed.

The last time I was here in Montreal I heard another stupendous project assembled by Christine Jensen (REVIEW). There must be a basic principle to grasp here: concerts involving the Jensens NEVER disappoint.

Categories: Live reviews

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